Google Street View Cars Accidentally Collected Web Site Info

Woopsies! Looks like Google’s super neat Street View cars have been going about collecting the wrong kind of information – namely, data about what Web sites people were using via open wireless Internet networks, CNN reports,

Google announced their little slip yesterday, which they promise does not include the collection of encryption data and was only taken from non-password protected networks.

Alan Eustace, a senior executive in Google’s engineering and research department, made an apology in a blog post and said they’re actively trying to figure out how to purge that data.

“We are profoundly sorry for this error and are determined to learn all the lessons we can from our mistake,” Eustace wrote, adding that the data was never used in any Google products.

Street View cars, the handy vehicles who go about collecting info for Google maps, won’t be gathering WiFi data at all anymore.

The mess-up, caused by an experimental piece of software code that was accidentally included in a program used by the cars, was revealed after the company started an internal investigation everything they’ve been collecting so far. Previously, Google said the data they gathered was only what was broadcast openly in the networks, like router numbers and network names. But they were wrong!

“It’s now clear that we have been mistakenly collecting samples of payload data from open (i.e. non-password-protected) WiFi networks,” Eustace said in his post.

So the eye in the sky really is watching us all.

Google mistakenly collected WiFi data [CNN Money]